Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

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Childhood in the digital age

4.3.2 What does the research evidence say?

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Figure 7 How successful are tablets in the classroom?

The evidence appears promising. Imagine the context in which young children can create their own digital stories using a combination of texts, images, videos and even sounds.

The Open University research team has found strong indications that e-books and digital apps, such as Our Story, can lead to improvements in early literacy skills among both pre-school children (Kucirkova et al., 2013) and primary-age children (Flewitt et al., 2014).

For example, one of the main conclusions was:

with just a little support from our team and a lot of teacher dedicated time – spurred on by the children’s enthusiasm – the practitioners discovered creative uses for the iPads in their classrooms, and recognised benefits for children’s self-esteem and enthusiastic engagement with a range of reading and writing activities.

(Flewitt et al., 2014, p. 16)

The point must be emphasised that it is not the technology alone that supports learning; careful planning and sensitive support by confident teachers is needed to ensure the technology meets its intended goals.

However, given this engagement on the part of teachers as much as of pupils, it does seem that digital applications on tablet devices can be successful in fostering literacy development. The question now is might these positive findings extend to other curriculum areas, such as maths? This is what we look at next.

If you would like to, read the article New directions for early literacy in a digital age: The iPad, by Rosie Flewitt et al. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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